Mr. Gaga

Ohad Naharin
Ohad Naharin

I would like to talk about Ohad Naharin. I am so inspired by his inventive approach to choreography. Ohad is an Israeli choreographer who was artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company and is now their resident choreographer. He has set works for many reputable dance companies around the world and has won numerous awards including the Doctor Honors from the Juilliard School.

Known as Mr. Gaga, he developed a pedagogy and movement language called Gaga which resists codification and emphasizes the dancer’s somatic experience. I have taken a Gaga class and it was a very freeing experience. You do not have to be a trained dancer to take a Gaga class, however, what I love about Ohad’s work is that he uses the somatic experience on highly trained technical dancers. His dance pieces are so much more than just putting steps together. He is very reliant on listening to the body as opposed to telling the body what to do. His process is very collaborative and the dancers play a huge role in the development of his work. They work together – sharing and exploring space, ideas and movement. The outcome is breathtaking. His work is captivating, explosive, and often very primal.

One work that I have not seen in person but have obsessively viewed as much as I am able to online is Minus 16. It is a piece that he put together in memory of his late wife, Mari Kajiwara. It consists of 4 excerpts of different works he’s done in the past – Mabul, Anaphaza, Zachacha, and Echad Mi Yodea. He put them together to create Minus 16. I am not sure that these excerpts presented together have a meaning as a whole but in his words “It seems right, especially because we’re doing it for Mari (Herschthal).”

His work is riveting, and if you have the time, I encourage you to experience some of it by visiting the videos below. My favorite – Echad Mi Yodea is absolutely hypnotizing. Enjoy!




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